What is a migraine?
About 25% of people with migraines experience aura. An aura is a migraine-specific symptom (usually tingling of arms, seeing flashes of light, or zigzag lines) that precede the migraine or accompanies it.
Migraines can occur at any time of the day, although in many cases they start in the morning. The pain may last for a few hours or up to one to two days. The frequency of a migraine attack varies from individual to individual. In some, it may occur once or twice a week, whereas, in others, it may occur once or twice a year. Migraine significantly diminishes a person’s quality of life.
Migraine is the third most prevalent disease and affects about one billion people worldwide.
What causes migraines?
The exact cause of migraines is unknown. Researchers think that migraine occurs because of an increase in the level of neurotransmitters, chemicals that send messages among the brain cells, in the brain.
This increase in neurotransmitters is believed to create overactive nerve cells, which in turn send signals to the trigeminal nerve that is responsible for the sensation in the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal nerve leads to the release of a set of chemicals that cause the blood vessels to swell and pain.
People with migraines react to a variety of factors and events, known as triggers. A combination of triggers may set off an attack.
Some common triggers include:
What causes migraines in women?
Migraine is most commonly seen in women. Every three out of four women are affected by migraines.
Some of the most common triggers affecting women are:
What are the types of migraines?
The two forms of migraine are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Migraine with aura: The person might observe the aura symptoms below 10 to 30 minutes before an attack or even accompanying the headache.
- Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
- Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
- Altered sense of smell, taste, or touch
- Feeling mentally “fuzzy”
Migraine without aura: The person does not have an aura but has all typical symptoms of an attack.
The symptoms of a migraine attack are:
How are migraine headaches treated?
There is no cure for migraine headaches. Medications along with some alternative therapies can treat or even prevent a migraine attack.
Medications commonly used in the treatment of migraines are:
- Triptans are the main group of medications used to manage migraines
- Imitrex (sumatriptan) as a shot or nasal spray. Good if you often get a stomach ache or throw up when you have migraines.
- Frova (frovatriptan) and Amerge (naratriptan) stay in your body for a long time, which would be helpful if your migraine tends to last a while.
- Pain relief medicines: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol and naproxen have shown to be particularly effective.
- Nausea medicines: Medications such as domperidone and ondansetron.
- Some antidepressants, calcium-channel blockers, and beta-blockers can help prevent the attack.
Alternative therapies useful in treating migraine attack are
- Biofeedback: This technique involves recognizing the stressful situations that could trigger an attack.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): This technique involves sending a pulse of magnetic energy to the specific regions of the brain to stop or reduce pain.
Some lifestyle changes that can help prevent the attack include:
- Staying hydrated
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly but avoid exertion
- Keeping a track of all the triggers
- Taking preventive medicines to avoid migraine headaches around the time of periods
- Eating at regular intervals
- Reducing stress
- Avoiding foods that cause attacks
- Rubbing or applying the pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Placing a cold cloth on the head during a headache
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Migraine TriggersPainful headaches can ruin your productivity and quality of life. But what triggers headaches and migraines? Learn some surprising causes of headaches and migraines plus how to find relief.
How Do You Get Rid of a Migraine Fast?Migraine is a neurological condition that is characterized by recurrent episodes of intense headaches. It may be associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and other clinical features.
Migraine HeadacheMigraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
Migraines and Seizures (Symptoms, Auras, Medication)Migraines are a type of headache and seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Migraine headaches and seizures are two different neurological problems that have similar signs, symptoms, and auras, for example, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound, irritability, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms unique to migraine and migraine auras are water retention, problems sleeping, appetite changes, and talkativeness. Symptoms unique to seizure and seizures auras are depression, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that a seizure is approaching, and depression.
Many of the symptoms of migraine and seizures are the same, however, seizures do not cause migraines; however, people who have seizures are twice as likely to have migraines and vice-versa. People who have migraines are twice as likely to have seizures, and people with seizures are twice as likely to have migraines; however, one condition does not cause the other.
Migraine and Stroke (Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment)
Migraine headache is a type of headache in which the exact cause is not known; however, they may be inherited, and certain foods and environmental factors can trigger and may contribute them. A stroke (brain attack) happens when a blood vessel in the brain leaks, bursts, or becomes blocked, which can be caused by many other health problems.
Both migraines and strokes can can cause severe head pain (migraine pain usually is only on one side of the head). Migraine aura symptoms may mimic or feel like a stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack, TIA) because they have similar symptoms and signs like severe headache, numbness in the legs, feet, arms, hands, or face, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Other migraine aura symptoms include vision problems like flashing lights or blind spots in one eye. The main difference between migraine headache and stroke symptoms and signs is that a migraine headaches usually come on gradually while a stroke symptoms come on suddenly and unexpectedly.
A migraine may cause photophobia (sensitivity to light and sound). Migraine triggers include hormonal changes, alcohol, insomnia, caffeine, stress, anxiety, bright lights, loud noises, strong odors, aspartame, MSG, and changes in the weather. Symptoms of a stroke that do not occur with migraines include confusion, speech, vision, and balance problems.
You can have a migraine headache and a stroke at the same time, but migraines do not cause strokes. However, in certain individuals with migraines with auras there may be related to a higher risk of stroke.
Stroke is a medical emergency. If you have stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get medical attention immediately.
Migraine HeadachesIs it a headache or a migraine? Learn what a migraine is, causes, symptoms, treatments, and at-home remedies.
Migraine HacksA migraine can be more than just a whopping headache. Try these self-care tips for relief before and after it hits.
Migraines SlideshowWhat does a migraine headache feel like compared to a tension headache? Learn to spot migraine symptoms early, how to identify your triggers, and get more information on migraine headache medications and treatments. Learn to tell migraine from other types of headaches.
Migraine vs. Headache: Differences and SimilaritiesHeadaches are the most common reason why a person goes to the doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. There are different types of headaches, for example, migraine, tension, and cluster headaches. The most common type of headache is tension headache. Migraine is much less common. There are few similarities between migraine and other headaches, for example, the severity of the pain can be the same, mild, moderate, or severe; and they can occur on one side or both sides of the head. However, there are many differences between migraine and other types of headaches. Migraine headaches also have different names, for example, migraine with aura and menstrual migraine.
Symptoms of migraine that usually aren't experienced by a person with another type of headache include nausea, vomiting, worsens with mild exercise, debilitating pain, eye pain, throbbing head pain.
Migraine trigger include light, mild exercise, strong smells, certain foods like red wine, aged cheese, smoked meats, artificial sweeteners, chocolate, alcohol, and dairy products, menstrual period, stress, oversleeping, and changes in barometric pressure.
Untreated migraine attacks usually last from 4 to 72 hours, but may last for weeks. Most headaches resolve within 24-48 hours. Doctors don't know exactly what causes migraine headaches; however, other headaches like tension headaches have more specific triggers and causes. Additional tests usually are required to diagnose migraine from other types of headaches, diseases, or other medical problems. Most headaches can be treated and cured with home remedies like essential oils, massage, and over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) or ibuprofen (Advil, Midol, Motrin). Most headaches resolve with OTC and home remedy treatment, while your doctor may need to prescribe medication to treat your migraines. If you have the "worst headache of your life," seek medical care immediately.
Non-Drug Migraine HelpLearn about 14 non-drug treatments for migraines. Acupuncture, biofeedback and massage therapy are among this list of non-drug migraine treatments that may help ease pain.
What Are the First Signs of a Migraine?The first sign of a migraine is severe eye pain associated with a dull headache. Migraines gradually worsen with physical activity.
What Causes Migraines?A migraine is a complex disorder that involves episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. An episode of a migraine can be very painful, lasting for hours, making day-to-day activities difficult until the episode is resolved. The frequency and severity of migraine attacks tend to decline with age. And women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
What Is the Best Thing to Do for a Migraine?There is no permanent cure for migraine headaches, but there are migraine treatments that can prevent attacks and relieve symptoms. When you get migraines, you can ease the pain immediately by simple measures such as resting with your eyes closed in a dark, quiet room, putting an ice pack on your forehead, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids.